The New “Evil Dead” and the Infamous Tree Rape Scene

The lead of Evil Dead stuck in a tree

You’d think that kids these days would know better than to read what’s inside of a book bound by human skin, especially if those kids are taking shelter in a cabin in the middle of the woods.

And yet! That’s the premise of the less-pleasant incarnation of the Evil Dead saga, which was released last week and is now the number one movie in America. Evil Dead originally started in 1981 with friends Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell’s low-budget, gooey, gory mess that won the hearts of cult movie nerds. Its sequel, Evil Dead II was essentially a remake of the first movie with the camp factor turned to 11 and the following movie, Army of Darkness, is set in a different dimension.

But the current reboot feels uncreative. Watching the new film just made me miss Bruce Campbell’s chin and shots of Raimi running insane through the woods.

[Trigger warning]

While there are a few tweaks to the plot of the camp classic—like the addition of a drug-addiction backstory—the largest change I noticed was the rewriting of Evil Dead’s infamous tree rape scene.

Even Raimi says he regrets including in his original film the scene where a young woman runs out of the haunted cabin, is held down by possessed branches, has her top torn by them, and is penetrated by a branch. The new scene has the screaming lead suspended in air as a slimy vine twists around her leg. There’s no penetration, but like in the original, the woman begin showing signs of possession after the incident. What’s probably most disturbing is that in both versions of the movie is that each woman later tries to explain what happened to them and their friends dismiss her for overreacting.

At the SXSW premiere of the new Evil Dead, I asked director Fede Alvarez why he had included a reworked version of the controversial scene in his film. He conceded that the original draft of the script did not have the scene, but that original producer Robert Tapert told him he needed to keep the well-known tree-rape scene in the film for the fans.

Really? Despite dropping the titillation aspect of the scene from the modern version, the reboot’s version drew thunderous applause from the SXSW crowd on at its premiere. Nothing on that screen could be as disturbing as it was to sit calmly among a thousand or so spectators cheering on an assault.

So it’s a part of the original. Big deal, it’s a reboot. Fans should allow directors to make changes to beloved properties—especially when it’s a change to remove an exploitive scene that should never have been made to begin with. If the first tree rape already bothered people, why did anyone think it wouldn’t bother folks now?

The film has stuffed plenty of fan moments throughout: the cast loses half a dozen arms, and yes, there is a chainsaw. Would some fans miss “that scene”? Sure, but they have the original and always will. What we missed is the chance disrupt the usual horror movie dialog and send the message that titillating rape scenes belong buried in the past—never to be resurrected. 

by Monica Castillo
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Monica Castillo is a freelance film critic. You can usually find her on Twitter talking about the movie she just watched at @mcastimovies.

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33 Comments Have Been Posted

Ugh, I forgot all about that

Ugh, I forgot all about that scene, gross and offensive. Thanks for writing.


I find it funny all the women screaming "offensive, crude" but its cool to giggle at those castration scenes for guys? Lol right... double standard much? I'll tell you what you tell us "Get over it"

There is a huge difference

<p>There is a huge difference between castration and rape although they both are infringements on a persons control over their body. The main difference is that rape is shown in horror movies way more than castration. In general sexualizing females is way more common than males (you don't see two men kissing in this movie). Maybe the response from females to seeing male castration is a sense of equality in the stance the media is taking towards this issue. It isn't something anyone is going to "get over".</p>

Women don't find those scenes

It's a horror movie not a

It's a horror movie not a gummi bears (which is actually more disturbing)

This remake was written by a feminist

I haven't seen either version of the film, and I don't intend to. But I'm really interested in the commentary on this. None of the feminist blogs I read have mentioned the fact that Diablo Cody wrote the remake. I am purely curious about what the author and the commenters have to say about that, as I'm certainly not sure what to make of it. I am also curious as to why no one seems to know (or, perhaps, care) that Cody wrote it.

Of course, the most disturbing thing about all of this is the audience's cheerful reaction to sexual assault.

Diablo Cody wrote the first

Diablo Cody wrote the first draft and several subsequent rewrites were made (including bringing back the rape scene) by two other writers, including director Fede Alvarez. She's one of four writers credited and from my interview from Fede, her script was only a jumping off point, which is why it wasn't pertinent to the scene discussed above. Her draft didn't have it.

I'm pretty positive she was

I'm pretty positive she was only brought in to touch up dialogue after the script was already written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Mendez.

You're Right

She "punched up" the dialogue, and if you read the script her contributions stand out beautifully.

I'm pretty positive Cody was

I'm pretty positive Cody was only brought in to do touch up work on dialogue after the script was already written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Mendez.

I'm a huge fan of the

I'm a huge fan of the original (except for the disgusting rape scene) and really looking forward to this remake but wish they didn't include that scene! Cheering? What the hell is wrong with people?

Wtf? I didn't know about that

Wtf? I didn't know about that scene in the original. Now I know not to watch it. God, I'm so frigging tired of the over-use of rape and sexual violence against women in movies. I mean, there must be some other way to show "dude, there's something evil going on here", right? I can't help but think some director's and writers who choose to include these kinds of scenes enjoy them in some way. Why else would they make them?

Just to add to this

Just to add to this discussion, I've been to countless horror film festival screenings where people (of both sexes) have cheered through gory bits, it isn't something that just happens for sexual assault scenes in films.

The issue of sexual assault in horror films is such a complex one.

Some of the best contemporary horror films have strong female protagonists who get the spotlight and are moving against the victim stereotype because they have experienced sexual assault; take American Mary, Lady Vengeance (which doesn't have any such scenes) and The Woman off the top of my head. It is a terrible flaw in the genre but horror is one of the rare platforms in film where such issues are getting exposed more and more.

I'm glad that they included it because it brings the issue to light again to different audiences. To ignore it, would be to make the original scene potentially more 'cultish' and ignore how sexual violence in films is still alarmingly centre stage.

Can anyone advise on triggery scenes?

I'm a horror nerd, but I have such a problem with sexual assault in movies. I think that the idea can add to a story, but that there is never any reason for graphic depiction of it. As a survivor, I get very touch about this. As a horror fan, I really want to see this movie.

Has anyone here seen it? I am very easily triggered and would like to know when to cover my eyes or leave the theater. Is there a scene I can watch for? I also heard someone mention a sexually disturbing torture scene involving two characters in the basement. Can someone please tell me if that might be triggering for a rape survivor with PTSD? I don't mind if you spoil it, I just want a bit of a head up. Thanks to all in advance!

Hello! I totally agree. I'm

I totally agree. I'm also sensitive to these sorts of scenes in films (even in adverts - we've been having some anti-assault adverts lately and I appreciate them but I also hate them), so I understand. I've seen the original lots of times, so I can sit through it but usually I turn away, and I've never felt comfortable with it.
The scene in question is fairly near to the beginning of the film. You will know when it starts to happen, because basically Cheryl heads outside and then the tree starts to attack her. Her motivation for heading out is hearing noises outside (sort-of voices) - you could leave the theatre at this point.

I'm not sure what other scene you're referring to. I can't think what it might be! Maybe ask the person who you heard it from? The scene we've been talking about is the only one I have a real problem with.

As an aside, Evil Dead II is much better.

I believe the basement scene

I believe the basement scene in question would be the "kiss" between Mia and Natalie.

All you see are vines

All you see are vines twisting around her leg and then they disappear under her skirt. It's definitely not as violent as the original, where it's pretty violent. It's actually in the red band trailer.

"I also heard someone mention a sexually disturbing torture scene involving two characters in the basement."

Possessed Mia cuts her tongue on a box cutter and kisses another woman. that's it.

I love horror movies so much,

I love horror movies so much, but shit like this upsets me to no end. I refuse to see the original and now the remake because of this. The only thing that makes me feel better is that Sam Raimi said he regrets that scene in the original. I just wish fanboys and girls would know that and realize why that matters and stop being creeps.


who would be offended by a tree rape scene, when trees do not really even have sex or rape anything? who cares

there is a genre called

there is a genre called fables in which animals, plants or lifeless objects are given human attributes to teach a moral lesson. these are metaphors. just because something is fictional doesn't mean it has no connection to reality. in fact, it is not possible not to be connected. so it is not 'just a story'. and this is not just a "tree" but a violator.

Robert Tapert seems to know what he's talking about.

I don't know what to do. my comment keeps tripping the spam filter. I don't have any links or emails in it.
So, a week ago (from tuesday) I went to a screening of Evil Dead. One of the hosts was The rep from the site is getting the audience pumped up for the movie and then says that it has “the second best rape scene”.
My mouth fell open and I looked at my neighbor “Did he just say that?! Did he really say that?!” She looked just as shocked as I felt and nodded. Yes, I know the rape scene is famous. It’s still inappropriate As you can see, I couldn't forget it.
There's more to this, but the spam filter doesn't want y'all to know, I guess.

More like...

...Tapert wanted his sole creative contribution to the series to be carried over into the reboot. The original tree rape was his idea. Heaven forbid anyone forget about it. I give Alvarez credit for muddying the waters and Levy for sticking to her guns and the no-nudity clause in her contract, but not much more than that.

There's so much more wrong with this movie. It completely eliminates the gender parity the original movie had; all of the women in it die in humiliating ways, while the men die nobly, with complete character arcs. A complete disappointment for me.

Firstly I would just like to

Firstly I would just like to say that I am a girl, now to the point, I, personally I am fan of the tree rape scene. And I really think the fact the everyone's gotten so miffed about this is stupid, I saw the first evil dead when was 13, 6 years ago, and even then it didn't phase me what so ever. Rape obviously isn't a good thing, neither is murder, and yet a majority of the horror movies we watch are about murders. Evil Dead pushes boundaries, just like the Exorcist did in the 70s, and pushing the boundaries is a good thing in horror movies. Any horror movie buff like me doesn't want to see the same thing over and over in every horror movie, they want something that's a little different, the Evil Dead, although its a movie about possession, and there are plenty of those already, sticks out because of the tree scene. It's what makes special.


Nice post indeed...


Sorry, but the infamous tree rape scene was what made that first movie. No one would know Evil Dead nowadays if not for that scene.

Yes, it was that remarkable. So much that we are all here talking about it - not about any other scene...

"What's probably most

"What's probably most disturbing is that in both versions of the movie is that each woman later tries to explain what happened to them and their friends dismiss her for overreacting."

Oh, fuck you. If a friend told me she was raped by a guy, I'd believe her. If she told me she was raped by a tree, I'd have a very hard time believing it because, oh well, maybe because trees aren't supposed to be capable of rape. Of course they will dismiss her and think she's delirious, she's telling them an event happened which should be scientifically impossible. They will go to the next likely possiblity, "Did an animal do this?".







Dont hate on the great Rape

Well I suppose I should expect a site made by lil bitches for lil bitches to complain about such a epic and classic scene. Its great! A tree raping chicks?? Totally innovative! They should have shown actual penatration in the pussy with the branch.


I dont see how it offends you its a tree unless a rapist was in the tree....................


What the hell do you mean there is no penetration? The slimy vine clears goes straight up her va**na in the scene. Where else does it go, up the back of her shirt. Get real.

My thoughts

I wonder if the only rape scene to take place in the original and new version was acted out on a man (with no female rape in the movie) would it still seem as normal to people, and would they still be as partial to the scene. Also, I agree that violence takes place against both men and women in countless movies, but the main difference is that violence towards men in movies rarely include rape or sexualization of the male character, where as the two are nearly always synonymous for women. Also this sex/violence duo in movies seems to prefer attractive women only. So not only do they often get tortured just as badly as men and often worse, they also have to be violated in a way no man would ever want for himself. Why is this concept so powerful and pervasive in movies? I have a feeling that if we reversed all this, to where men were usually the only ones getting sexually brutalized in the average movie and not women, most men would not like or enjoy it. People are just used to women being raped so it doesn't seem like a big deal. There is a reason why rape of men is not often portrayed like it is with women, because most people wouldn't even bother seeing such movies.

Obviously you being offset is the precise aim of the scene

What I mean is that this is a horror movie, you being chocked or horrified and even offended is what the scene is here to do. By criticizing it you are by default giving it praise for the director and producers for making it feel as shocking as it did.

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